Blog Action Day – Water Here and Where

  • Post published:10/15/2009
  • Post comments:6 Comments
Our Frog Pond
Our Frog Pond

Our Frog Pond is beautiful. And useful. When our dilapidated barn was struck by lightning in the middle of the night, July 5, 1990, the volunteer fire department was able to pump water to help put out the fire. In fact, the previous owners had enlarged the pond which is stream and spring fed to make it a fire pond. The frogs like it, and so do the grandchildren. So do we. It’s good for swimming and catching newts. Catch and release, of course. We never manage to catch frogs.

Dug Well
Dug Well

We actually have a lot of water on our hill. Some of it we located the day after we moved in right after Thanksgiving 1979. The minute we arrived in Massachusetts from NYC, the temperature plummeted. The pipes in our new old farmhouse froze. We had no water. Our three daughters who were still living at home were not best pleased. The first thing Henry had to do when we woke up was go out and locate the dug well we had been told was in back of the house. It had been covered over and looked like wintry lawn. Henry dug, found it and uncovered it. We admired the well, a miracle of engineering and labor thirty feet deep with beautiful fieldstone walls. We hauled water by hand for several days until we thawed the pipes and got the drilled well in operation. A few years ago we put a concrete tile and cover to top the dug well, making access easier when we used it for irrigation by letting out sump pump down into the well. We never wanted to use water from the drilled well for irrigation. There are enough people in Heath who have had their wells go dry that we are aware of the dangers.

Pasture well
Pasture well

There is also a dug well out in the pasture, about 100 yards from the house. There was a gravity feed pipe that carried water from the well to the house, but it was separate from water from the drilled well that was the main water supply that we continue to use. We used that water for irrigation until it started smelling really really bad.  Henry girded his loins, took a ladder and climbed down the 15 food deep well – and brought up a couple of dead skunks  that managed to get in even though a large stone covered the well. Henry disconnected the line to the house, and we buried the skunks under the Applejack rose. Applejack thrives.

Lawn Bed Well
Lawn Bed Well

Ten years ago we created the two Lawn Beds and had our five toddler and infant grandsons plant gingko trees. Those boys are now 13 and 11 years old; the beds have been filled in with shrubs and perennials. One day, about four years ago Henry was helping me dig so I could put in an Alma Potschke aster. He hit a rock. He was always hitting a rock, but this rock slipped and skittered – and went SPLASH!  Upon closer inspection Henry saw that a large flat stone covered another well!  This one was smaller in diameter and only about 10 feet deep.  Again, it was lined with stone. We wondered if it was the first well, dug when the original house was built in the middle of the 19th century. I had great plans for turning it into a fountain, but it only collects ground water and the level varies radically over the course of the year. 

Drilled well
Drilled well

Last year when we had the drilled well in back of the house repaired and added an above ground wellhead to bring it up to code and make it legal, we took the circular cement block that had covered it (and then been covered with sod) and used that to  cover the Lawn Bed Well, that had been much more informally covered. The wellhead is not a thing of beauty, but we haven’t come up with a disguise yet. I do remember my friend Cindy Fisher of Big Bang Mosaics who built a beautiful mosaic bird bath to cover her wellhead.  Hmmmmm.

I have a lot of water on my hill. I am aware of how blessed we are, because wells do run dry, even here in Heath. Even here in Heath we sometimes have to haul water by hand. Even so, we don’t have to carry it far, or we can carry it by car from Whittemore Spring, every Heathan’s emergency water supply.

Snapshot of a Kenya snapshot
Snapshot of a Kenya snapshot

I can’t help remembering  when we visited our Peace Corps daughter Betsy on her Kenyan hill town where the women had to carry water from a spring a mile away. One of Betsy’s jobs was to repair a water storage tank at an old British colonial farm house for the villagers to use. She also supervised the laying of a gravity feed line from a spring to a new large water storage tank that she and villagers  built. We were fortunate enough to be visiting in July of 1989 when water was finally available from that tank. Great Celebration! Both tanks brought clean water much closer to the village.

 When we lived in Beijing, the capital city of China, we knew that many families had to share a single tap. The old houses had no running water. Which means no bathrooms. Which means chamber pots or a trip to the public bathroom on the corner. And this was in a modern city in 1989. We have seen how much more work it takes to get enough water for household use in the third world, but where you can at least have your own choo (outhouse).

We have hauled water ourselves, but worse than having to go to a lot of trouble to have water, is living where water is so scarce that the crops have dried up, where the desert has moved in, where people have had to leave their land and where water has to be trucked in their temporary camps.

The talk is all about Global Warming or Climate Change, but I think a more accurate description of what is happening is Climate Disruption.  There are more storms and destructive floods in some places. Too much water. And there are more long droughts in other places. Too little water. Here in Heath we talk about Climate Disruption causing a July with 23 days of heavy rains, breaking weather records, and a very dry September. Local farmers as well as local gardeners suffer. We feel the necessity of slowing and stopping the production of greenhouse gases that cause this problem. We hope our efforts, and efforts around the world, will not be too late.

To see what other over 8000 bloggers around the world have to say about Climate Change logon to the BLOG ACTION DAY site and take your pick. Three of the postings I’ve found valuable are Girl With Pen, Water Is Life and Lil Fish Studios News.

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Carol

    Climate disruption is a good name too! I love this post … so important. It is such a hassle to have our pipes freeze but at least we know it is temporary … it is so interesting about all your wells… and the skunks… I wonder about the two… something romantic about that or else just both fell in … well at least they had each other till the end… funny skunks aiding roses. It is so tragic about how other countries are harder hit by climate change … and what really upsets me is how corporations try to claim water and then sell it to the peoples of many smaller countries. Water is a right and should never be owned except by the peoples of said country. What a great experience for your daughter and good for her… for being there helping out. Wonderful post Pat. Carol

  2. admin

    Carol, It doesn’t get quite as much play as the atmosphere, and indeed we can only live for a very few minutes without air, and three or four days without water, but I think sufficient CLEAN water is a vital issue. One horrible thing I saw, and I’m not going to remember the details, but it was about the water of one of the great lakes being sold to a bottler for profit. Governments do not need money so badly that they can sell their water so it can be taken away and sold for profit.

  3. Carol

    Pat that is exactly what I mean… criminal really. Next it will be water that is collected from rain… like GMO seeds and the nightmare it is causing. This is just a no brainer… it is wrong. You are so right that air gets more attention than water… but it is a major issue the world over. It snowed here too! Thirty years of living here I have never known this cold or snow to fall in October. Carol PS Thanks so for visiting and for your comments!

  4. Morvah

    Hello there and greetings from Cornwall. Thank you so much for your comment on my blog. This is such a lovely place you have here! Heath looks very beautiful, calm and unspoilt. Our autumn colours are quite different – we are closely surrounded by the ocean and are subject to fierce Atlantic gales. Trees only grow in sheltered valleys – mostly we have granite moorland and spectacular coastlines. We have only a small garden but rent two allotments where we grow a variety of vegetables,fruit,herbs and flowers. Our soil is light and easily fertilised from surrounding stables and dairy farms, also seaweed is a free and excellent resource, we have been gathering seaweed this weekend to cover our freshly dug root plot for next spring. Our winters are short and relatively mild – proximity to the sea usually keeps the temperature above freezing for most of the winter. We garden using biodynamic principles as much as possible though outside work for clients has to come first so we can’t be too obsessive about it! I will return to visit your very interesting blog – it is nice to meet you, best wishes, Morvah.

  5. Pat

    Morvah – It is so good to meet you. I helped lead a college garden tour in England in 1983, and although we could see only a few places in two weeks I had a wonderful time. I have long been an admirer of English novels and TV shows – and gardens. I will visit you again soon.

  6. Amy

    We have a small pond built into our deck and I love hearing the frogs chirping at night. Not only is it relaxing but the enjoyment is amazing.

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